Friday, June 01, 2007

This blog, my PLE?

On 25 May, Stephen Downes expressed his view of blogs, Wordpress blogs in particular, as PLEs. Now this is not a Wordpress blog, and I'm not quite so clever with plug-ins, but I get his point. While this blog is by no means my complete PLE, it is an important part of it. As is my aggregator list, my protopage, my cocomment conversations, my Ning networks, the discussion forums on my university WebCT and my email inboxes among other things.

The thing is, though, that I wonder when the term "environment" got hijacked to mean an online environment. Jay Cross picks up on this to a measure in his comment on Stephen's post (BTW - as ever, the conversation going on in the comments is as much worth reading as the post itself). I consider my office, my television set, my university classes, team development days, conversations with my far cleverer colleagues (both on and offline) to be a part of my PLE.

Hey, you know what? If I stop to think about it, I guess my whole life is a PLE. Forget lifelong learning, can I coin the term "lifewide learning"?

What I will say in respect of blogs is that two years of blogging has taught me more, changed me more, stretched me more, and opened more worlds up to me than all the preceding years of professional practice put together. Long may it last!


Stephen Downes said...

> I wonder when the term "environment" got hijacked to mean an online environment.

That's a good question. It has certainly never been my intention.

People equate Web 2.0 with the web 2.0 websites, like Gliffy and Writely, that have proliferated, as though any site that uses AJAX is Web 2.0.

But of course what Web 2.0 means is any application that seamlessly merges content consumption and content creation. That is why Picassa is part of Web 2.0 (and the Flickr uploader).

The same with PLEs.

> can I coin the term "lifewide learning"?

You can, though I am more enthusiastic about the concept than the term.

I have spoken before of the need to close the gap between learning and life.

The idea that learning is some separate intentional act we do apart from learning is absurd.

We are always learning, no matter what we are doing. The question is not whether we learn, but what we learn.

To separate learning from life is therefore to leave the greater part of our learning, that which we learn when we are not 'learning', to chance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment, Stephen.

"I am more enthusiastic about the concept than the term" (lifewide learning). No arguments here - I make no claim that it rolls of the tongue with any ease!

I have followed both your posts and your presentations on, well, lifewide learning, and agreed out loud more than once (to the consternation of others in the room at the time) - especially shortly after your hiatus when you said something along the lines that it wasn't about the technology, it wasn't even about the learning, it was about the life (and the person living it). That gets my vote... big time!

Martin M-B said...

I don't want to be the Sunday Spoilsport, but the term 'lifewide learning' is not a new one. As long ago as 2000 it was usewd in a paper titled Lifelong Learning and Lifewide Learning, out of the National Agency for Education, Stockholm (, and this may not be the first time it's been used...
The Swedish paper says that: "Lifelong learning and lifewide learning describes the concept of learning in which individuals learn throughout the life-span from formal, non-formal, and informal sources" - so that fully supports the thrust of the discussion, I think.

Like Stephen, I don't believe there has been an intention to hijack the term to mean an online environment - but the online bit is undoubtedly an important element of the overall picture. One of the issues discussed in the work on PLEs done at the University of Bolton (by Oleg Lieber amongst others) is how learning interfaces/tools might be transportable between institutions to enable learners to plug their own learning toolset into those of the institution. So now we are into the area of eportfolios, I guess, and there is an unmissable relationship between the two things, if a PLE is to have more utility than an exclusively personal (inward-facing) 'thing'.

So, as usual,yes....but!

Anonymous said...

So it seems I am not about to go down in history as the originator of the term lifewide learning. Ah well. Nevertheless, I am glad the concept is acknowledged and that it has the support of some significant parties. That's far more important.

jay said...

Here's a visual response: